Laboratories are one of the cornerstones of business research and development. Due to the nature of scientific work, many labs are equipped with sharp tools and dangerous chemicals, which is why it’s crucial to prioritize safety at all times. Anyone working in a lab must be properly trained in the basics of safe practices and procedures.
These safety guidelines play a dual role: to protect people from untoward accidents and to ensure that lab facilities and tools such as water-bath lab equipment are kept in top condition. Typically, all new lab staffers undergo a safety orientation that includes emergency response plans, standard operating procedures, and safe work practices.
Regardless of your field of work, there are a few general rules that everyone in the lab must observe.
1- Read and follow the instructions
The most important lab rule is to follow instructions to the letter. Before starting a lab experiment, you need to acquaint yourself with all the steps of the procedure. For live demonstrations, listen to the instructor closely and take notes throughout the process. Don’t forget to ask questions before starting the actual procedure.
Using equipment or attempting a procedure without prior training could affect your results, damage equipment, and hurt yourself and others in the vicinity. In this case, curiosity can save lives.
2- Know where the safety gear is
In the event of a fire, equipment malfunction, or adverse chemical reaction, it’s essential to know where the safety equipment is stored. You also need how to use them in an emergency. If you’re in charge of your own station, it also pays to inspect the safety equipment regularly and replace damaged or expired ones. For instance, you want to make sure that the extinguishers work and that water comes out of the decontamination shower.
3- Wear the proper gear
You need to wear the proper lab gear before performing any experiment or procedure. In many cases, the clothes you wear are your first line of protection from dangers such as fire, chemicals, and biological agents. Make sure to tie your hear up and wear long pants and covered shoes.
For specific procedures, especially in biosafety labs, you need to wear protective gear such as goggles, gloves, and pressure suits. Take off all nonessential items, such as jewelry.
4- Don’t snack in the lab
Keep food and drinks out of the laboratory. If you’re feeling hungry or thirsty, take a quick break at your office or the campus canteen. You shouldn’t store food items inside lab fridges as well.
For starters, you don’t want chemicals or bioagents to contaminate your food. Even if your experiments are clean and safe, there could still be traces of contaminants from previous experiments. Spilled drinks can also damage sensitive electronics and equipment.
In the end, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of lab safety. Lab accidents happen all the time, and an innocuous-looking liquid could be noxious or toxic. You need to follow the best lab practices all the time to keep yourself and others safe.